A Note from 40 Years of Teaching Myself and Others to Write

Sometimes I go to sleep with my heart full of sadness. A student’s poem that day about a bicycling daughter killed by a bus as it made a turn, someone’s essay about losing her son to a strep infection that went to his heart, and someone else’s essay about grieving the mother she had and … Continue reading

Revising Older Poems — It’s Never Too Late to Take Another Look

[This article appeared first in April, 2012.] April is National Poetry Month. Feeling a little badly that I hadn’t started new poems to celebrate the month, I decided to look through old files in a computer folder labeled “archived poems.” I had completely forgotten some of the drafts I’d created. When I read them, I … Continue reading

Listening to How a Poem Sounds Helps You Write Both Poems and Prose — Meaning is in the Sounds!

[The following article in honor of National Poetry Month appeared in slightly different form in March of 2003.] John Keats created the term “negative capability,” the idea that a poem holds within it one thing as well as its opposite. For example, when we eulogize someone’s death, we also celebrate their life. When we ache … Continue reading

“Sanctuary,” Contest Winning Essay by Nancy Lamb

Our guest judge Holly Hughes, wrote this about Nancy Lamb’s essay: In this essay, the narrator recalls her first visit to Martin’s Ranch in the red rock canyons high above Santa Fe and her first experience with the landscape as sanctuary that’s still part of her today. In fresh descriptive language, the writer brings us … Continue reading

Tender is the Harvest, A Winning Essay by Laurie McConnachie

Our contest judge Holly Hughes  wrote these words in choosing Laurie McConnachie’s essay as one of our three winners: This is a deeply moving account of a daughter who lost her mother to a brain tumor when she was in her late 20s—and how she learns to move through grief and open her heart to … Continue reading

Beginning Again with Tree Spirits by Katlaina Rayne

I am pleased to share another essay by a Writing It Real member. “Beginning Again with Tree Spirits” illustrates the diverse topics our members write about. Reading Katlaina’s essay will definitely change your relationship to the trees and forests in your towns and counties as well as inspire courage to write about topics you fear … Continue reading

Creative Writing: Carpe diem, quam minimum, credula postera

I met poet, novelist, and playwright Gary Langford through a long time friend of mine who met Gary years ago in Australia when they were both young men. In the years since, Gary has written in many genres, run a University Creative Writing Program, taught theater, and much, much more. Here he breaks down writing … Continue reading

“In Honor of Mr. Alfred Scott,” by Jean Peelen

As Black History Month ends and we have learned more about black religious leaders, scientists, politicians, professors, film directors, sports figures, journalists, poets and authors, among many other professions, those of other ethnicities have had an opportunity to reflect on how learning of the strife of an oppressed group changed the trajectory of their own … Continue reading

Tornado Watch by Carol Smallwood

Writing It Real contributor Carol Smallwood is a poet with several volumes to her name, a retired career librarian who has produced books of value to those who direct and run libraries and educational programs, and she is the editor of writing books for new and experienced writers and teachers of writing. In 2018 she … Continue reading

Hey, Writing-in-Progress — Will You Be My Valentine?

The relationship began three winters ago. Driving a country road in the early dusk, I hit a deer–or as a knowledgeable friend suggested afterward, a deer hit me. A buck with branching antlers leaped from the trees on one side of the road, attacked the hood of my car with an ear-splitting crunch, then disappeared … Continue reading

Flash! It’s a Great Form to Practice!

What is flash writing and why do authors like to write flash pieces? It’s quicker to write than a novel or memoir. It’s a challenge to see how much you can say with a short word limit, up 500 to 1500 or under 300 for microfiction (6 words, 50 words, 101 words, 150 words, 250 … Continue reading

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Staying in a Committed Relationship With Your Writing

According to Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary, commitment means “the state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to an ideal or course of action.” Emotionally or intellectually are good words for the writer to fuse. To keep on writing requires both an emotional and cognitive desire. A writer feels pleased and almost propelled to … Continue reading